I Cook, Therefore I Am
Now several overhauls away from the original Jacky [Pluton, who opened the place as the French-focused Jacky’s Bistro], Jacky’s on Prairie (2545 Prairie Ave., Evanston; 847-733-0899) has new owners—Jonadab Silva and Erin Silva Winston, also known as the current chef and the pastry chef. The cuisine will stay contemporary and eclectic, including menu items such as chilpachole (a Mexican seafood stew) and Moroccan lamb shank. “I just want to focus on a smaller menu,” Silva says. At lunch, about three appetizers and three entrées will be available, as well as a three-course prix fixe. The dinner menu will shrink from its current size by about 20 percent but will focus on the four-course prix fixe. The couple plan to take over on Monday. Since Pluton founded Jacky’s, it’s got different food, a different chef, different owners, and a slightly different name. Is it still the same restaurant? We’ll be adding this to the manuscript for our upcoming book, Restaurant Philosophy Puzzles.
Six Questions for Laurent Tourondel
Tourondel, the source of the “LT” in the multicity, multistar BLT restaurant chain (with which, after a legal battle, he is no longer affiliated, although he says he still owns the BLT trademark), plans to open the Chicago branch of BLT American Brasserie (500 W. Superior St.; no phone yet) in mid-autumn, as was reported by Eater.
Dish: Have you been thinking about bringing a BLT restaurant to Chicago for a while?
Laurent Tourondel: I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years. It was the right space for me, for the concept I am doing—not too fancy. Right in the middle.
D: What is the concept? Is it like other BLT restaurants?
LT: No. Brand-new concept. It has a lot of grilled items on the menu. We have a section with some sushi. A little section with mini pizzettas.
D: Would you call it a something-for-everyone approach?
LT: It is for everyone, but I’m not trying to revolutionize the culinary world. Just trying to provide good food [for people] to enjoy and come three times a week if they want to.
D: Can you reveal a few menu items?
LT: I have a dish with figs wrapped in pancetta. It will be baked in the wood oven with Gorgonzola and balsamic reduction and arugula. We will have barbecue ribs. Barbecue baby back ribs glazed with apple and honey.
D: Will the ribs be grilled or smoked?
LT: We bought a smoker.
D: Do you have a smoker in any of your other restaurants?
“You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”
—Yogi Berra (1925–), American former professional baseball player and manager
It’s All Relative
After 25 years in the concrete business, Vito Tufano took over the suburban space that formerly housed the Pasta Shoppe to open Il Vicolo Trattoria (116 N. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park; 708-386-5801). Tufano, who owned a restaurant in Montreal in the seventies, has a menu of gnocchi, ravioli, and the layered baked-pasta dish timballo. “Authentic southern cuisine—Italian, 100 percent,” Tufano says. Pizzas run $11 or $12, and entrées top out at $18 for steak. As to whether he’s related to the Tufanos of the iconic Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap, he says, “I bet you that we are, but I don’t know. We are five to six generations here in Chicago. We built a house for them in Oak Brook, but I don’t know if I was related to his mom. Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t. Everyone asks me the same question, but we don’t want to make any mistakes and say the wrong thing.” Well, if you go back far enough, we’re all related, right?
Pollack’s Dinner at Quay in 145 Words
The Cirque de Dîner décor of this space’s DeLaCosta days is gone, replaced by Split Personality Disorder—sceney bar upfront, elegant atmosphere the deeper you go into the dining room of the three-week-old Quay (465 E. Illinois St.; 312-981-8400). Same goes for the menu—bar food? comfort food? steak-house 101? Service is earnest if awkward, but if you go with the flow, you can have an awfully good dinner. Arguably more appropriate for a cold day than a hot one, the watercress-celery soup, thickened with potatoes, was mighty tasty. Chorizo upped the ante on ale-steamed mussels. And the tarte flambé flatbread was shockingly delicate. Quay’s Cheddar burger would contend for best dish at any tavern, while the seared scallops with braised short ribs had Sepia written all over them. The mac and cheese was so indulgent, I couldn’t face dessert. Next time, I’ll save room.
New Orleans, New York
“I have been studying New York pizza for a couple of years. I’ve just been pizza obsessed, simply stated,” says Jimmy Kang, the owner of Jimmy’s Pizza Café (5159 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-293-6992), which opened a week and a half ago. “The operation here is that we are trying to serve real, authentic New York pizza in Chicago,” he says. A high-gluten flour produces the crust, and toppings include garlic, olive oil, mozzarella, and ricotta on a white pizza and local Fontanini sausage. Along with pizza, Jimmy’s other specialty is beignets, which sounded like an odd combination to us. “That’s what a lot of people say until they try them,” Kang says, adding that his beignets are light and not-oily, similar to the famous ones at Café du Monde in New Orleans. Three beignets cost $2.50. Now that someone has snatched up our New York pizza–New Orleans beignets restaurant idea, we’ll have to focus our energies on our Texas barbecue–New England clam chowder spot.
How to Order at Cilantro Thai Kitchen
Cilantro Thai Kitchen (1509 W. Devon Ave.; 773-262-7797) opened in mid-June in the former Everyday Thai space under chefs/owners/married couple Sarinna and Srianand Kachentawa. The manager, Gain Kachentawa, who is also the Kachentawas’ daughter, recommended a few items from different sections of the menu.
• Appetizers. Kachentawa picks the sweet fried bananas and tofu in a spicy mango sauce. (Spicy for Americans, not Thais, she says.)
• Noodles. Drunken noodles are great for spice-lovers, and cilantro noodles for the spice-averse. Curry pad Thai is a house specialty. “We make the curry pastes ourselves,” she says.
• Rice dishes. Mango chicken comes with fresh mangoes over the top. Tropical fried rice includes pineapple, litchi, jackfruit, mango, cashews, eggs, and onion.
• Dessert. Mango sticky rice is best now, when mangoes are in season. Coconut ice cream comes direct from Thailand.
- Pollack takes her show on the road, eating and tweeting from our nation’s capital at Founding Farmers, Pizza Paradiso, Sushi Taro, Restaurant Nora, Art and Soul, and Graffiato.
- Follow Pollack on Twitter.
Things to Do
1. Assemble a hungry crew of four or more for a family-style, three-course dinner at Indian food gem Marigold (4832 N. Broadway; 773-293-4653). The $20-per-person feast—held each Sunday this month from 5 to 9 p.m. in honor of the restaurant’s fifth anniversary—features a rotating selection of menu standouts, like daal makhni (black lentils simmered in puréed tomatoes, garam masala, and cream).
2. Sweeten (or caffeinate) your Thursday with a complimentary cookie or latte from the brand-new Mrs. Fields concept store (242 S. State St.; 312-212-1313), the first location of the chain to offer its signature coffee and flavored espresso drinks. They’re flinging the freebies from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow and selling cookies and lattes for 99 cents through August 15.
3. Track the celebrity-chef-studded Macy’s Chefs A-Go-Go food truck, which rolls through town this week to dole out free grub as part of its national tour. Takashi Yagihashi (Takashi) will be aboard August 14 at 1 p.m. as part of the Street Food Artistry (Galleria Marchetti, 825 W. Erie St.; 312-563-0495) festival, and Rick Bayless (Topolobampo, Frontera Grill) will man the truck from the Ethyl’s Beer & Wine Dive (324 S. Racine Ave.; 312-433-0007) parking lot on August 16 at 6 p.m.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
West suburban star Prasino will expand into the city with the unveiling of its eco-chic Wicker Park café on Friday at 7 a.m. . . . On the heels of its Pizza Today recognition, Piece celebrates its 10th anniversary. Team Dish looks forward to raising a pint of Anniversary Ale. . . . Sweets shop TipsyCake has relocated to 1944 North Damen Avenue in Bucktown, where shop owners plan to open Saturday, with the same lineup of Aussie treats, as well as a new Urban High Afternoon Tea—a daily offering of Julius Meinl coffee and tea, sandwiches, scones, and other pastries. . . . L.A.–based health-nut haven Native Foods Café has opened the first of three planned city locations, this one at 1484 North Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park. . . . Per Eater, Michelin-lauded Indian spot Veerasway quietly closed last weekend, and its owners plan to transform the space into the decidedly non-Indian Grange Hall Farm Burger.